Memorial Day weekend, Brad and I packed up our formal wear and drove out to New Jersey for the long-awaited nuptials of my friends, B. and S. I understand, based on anecdotal evidence from people in their 30s, that my life for the next five years will be packed chock-full of this sort of thing. People are inevitably going to pair off, and move in together, and trade in the culture of "Single Fun" for the culture of "Destination Weddings", followed by the culture of "My Baby Could Walk At Three Months So I Guess Yours Might Be Retarded".
This is bad news for me, in part because I'm pretty sure – as someone with no money and no maternal instinct – that I'll be on the losing end of the marriage-and-baby competitions. (If my experience with the dog is any indication, I'll be so exhausted by the task of raising whatever kids I have that I'll eventually give up on teaching them anything too difficult – like empathy, or math – and consider it a success as long as they don't pee on the floor.) But in the more immediate future, I have a different-but-related problem which I discovered this weekend: I kind of suck at being a Wedding Guest.
It started with the gift. This being the first time I was attending a wedding without playing the role of either Flower Girl or Someone Else's Date, it somehow didn't occur to me that I was supposed to get a gift. Then, three weeks before the big day, my mother clued me in.
"What will you get them for a gift?" she asked.
To which I replied, "Oh, fuuuuuuuck."
Two hours later, I was staring dumbfounded at an online registry that was flush with china, hand-woven rugs, delicate glass bowls, and kitchen gadgets of curious design. I had too many questions. Did I need to get multiple things? Did I have to spend a certain amount to maintain friend status? The more I clicked around, the more confused and panicky I felt. Could I buy
only one plate from a set of six? What the hell was "fondant"?
I was overwhelmed. I was confused. Also, having just signed most of my disposable income over to a real estate broker, I was on a seriously ball-squeezing budget.
And that's when I saw it – the Perfect Present. A cheerful household item, a kitchen standard. It was attractively designed, it wasn't part of a set, and it was – bless its little heart – something I could afford. High on the rush of adult gift-giving and wanting to snag the Perfect Present before some other, equally confused future guest snapped it up, I didn't hesitate. I bought it.
Later, I began to doubt my decision. I'd been awfully hasty in my selection. I called my mother to check."You got them what?" she said, incredulous.
"It was just so overwhelming!" I said. "There were all these things, and they were either really expensive or I didn't know what they were, and I didn't know what to do!"
"Oh dear," she sighed. And then, "Well, I'm sure it's alright."
The day before the wedding, I got a thank-you note from the bride.
Dear Kat: Thank you for the wonderful apple-corer.
My friend S. is a classy, classy girl.
And I am such an asshole.